The economy of India is based in part on planning through its five-year plans, which are developed, executed and monitored by the Planning Commission. Prior to the fourth plan, the allocation of state resources was based on schematic patterns rather than a transparent and objective mechanism, which led to the adoption of the Gadgil formula on poverty line in 1969. Revised versions of the formula have been used since then to determine the allocation of central assistance for state plans.

The goal of decent work is best expressed through the eyes of people. It is about their job and future prospects; about their working conditions; about balancing work and family life. It is about gender equality, equal recognition of the vulnerable groups and enabling them to make choices and take control of their lives. It is about their personal abilities to compete in the market place, keep up with new technological skills and remain healthy. It is about developing their entrepreneurial skills, about receiving a fair share of the wealth that we have helped to create and not being discriminated against; it is about having a voice in the workplace and in our communities. In the most extreme situations it is about moving from subsistence to existence. For many, it is the primary route out of poverty. For many more, it is about realizing personal aspirations in their daily existence and about solidarity with others. And everywhere, and for everybody, decent work is about security and human dignity. Furthermore lack of education, health care facilities and proper nutrition, India’s social indicator is dwindling due to political neglect, regional imbalances and myopic priorities set by the policy makers.

The presentation and discussion would primarily be focused on some of the key issues of the development highlighted below and make a comparison between India and China’s development path;

Has India remained static on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)? What is the achievement in last 10 years, apart from the rural employment programme?
Each country defines its own path and NREGP (the rural job guarantee) has been a good step, though its success has not been even. If that is achieved, many of the goals would be automatically achieved.

Is there an improvement?
The policies have improved a lot. At least, the rhetoric is there. The problem is financing. In healthcare and education, the public investment continues to be very low. India’s contribution as a percentage of GDP is one of the lowest in the world. Though ambitious programme such as NRHM and SSA have been initiated for last decade or so, the latest human development index puts India into a miserable 137th in the Rank. Clearly, the high growth rate in GDP has not translated into well being indicators.

What can be done to make the government do something that will reach people?
It is necessary now to track the MDGs at the local level. Make Panchayati Raj Institutions powerful and accountable. There needs to be a clear devolution of power from the state sector to the three tier system.

What about areas hit by Naxalism?
If MDGs are not addressed now, then the whole country will become Naxal territory. The choice is between spending Rs 1,000 today dealing with health or education or basic needs of the people or to spend Rs 10,000 tomorrow on military operations.

A policy by itself cannot solve problems: it has to be implemented and an implementation strategy requires to be meticulously planned which demands efficiency to implement a reform and what is more, institutionalize it.

Mere acceptance of a report is not enough. As functionaries are accustomed to the older order of things there is always a risk of their reverting to past practices unless strong efforts are made to institutionalize the reforms. Civil servants, looking after implementation must definitely be a cut above the rest, as they would be called upon to display vision, drive and imagination in the handling of administrative reform. Administrative reform must not be taken as a routine job: the ringing in of a new order requires extra effort and drive.

Continuity and Change – The Challenges of 21st Century” – 2nd –4th February, 2012, Government College, Central University, Bilaspur


– Samir Ghosh, Inclusion Advisor, World Bank & Director Shodhana Consultancy, Pune